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11/11/2005
Federal Officials Spending $59 Million to Push Congestion Tax
$59 million in federal taxpayer dollars are going to promote congestion charges, tolls and GPS taxation systems.

Federal Highway Administration
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is spending $59 million over Fiscal Years 2005-2009 to promote the idea of adding tolls to existing interstate highways, imposing fees on individuals entering metropolitan areas, and to implement GPS-based tracking and taxing systems.

"The Congress has mandated this program as an experimental program aimed at learning the potential of different value pricing approaches for reducing congestion," FHWA explains on its website.

Taxpayer dollars are funding per-mile taxation experiments in San Francisco, Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon and Washington. These programs often use GPS satellite devices to track and monitor the movements of individuals in order to charge, for example, a tax of $2.44 for every mile driven.

New York transportation officials are now openly embracing a congestion tax that would start at $7 for automobiles that enter Manhattan during peak hours. The program is modeled after London's lucrative congestion charging program which now charges £8 (US $14) to enter the city. New York's proposal is also being pushed by "The Partnership for New York City" an organization of engineering and consulting firms that stand to profit from the complicated taxing program.

This complication has allowed London's city government to issue £660,000 in camera tickets daily to those who mistakenly forget to pay the tax, while it earns another £540,000 daily from the charge itself. The money paid to the tax comes at the expense of local business, according to a London Chamber of Commerce survey showing 84 percent of retailers reported a significant drop in business. The Center for Economics and Business Research reported that lost revenue would exceed £236 million (US $415 million) and result in the loss of 6,000 jobs.

On February 22, seventy-four percent of voters in Edinburgh, Scotland rejected a congestion tax proposal in the only public referendum on the issue.



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